Today I went to a vernissage for the exhibition of the mother of one of my friends who is a painter. it’s a little stuffy and it’s not with petit fours that we eat so I made us burgers with what I had in the fridge and here is the result! These can also be eaten cold if you want to take them to work or for a picnic.
CHICKEN BURGER PATTIES:
500g ground chicken (mince)
250g panko breadcrumbs, 1 egg
75g parmesan finely grated,
green onion finely sliced (~2 stems)
2 garlic cloves minced,
1/2 tsp dried sage,
1/2 tsp salt and pepper , each
2 tbsp olive oil,
4 soft burger buns or brioche buns,
1 avocado (big!) (or 2 medium)
60g /rocket / arugula or other lettuce,
2 tomatoes sliced,
4 slices Swiss cheese (or other cheese)
Mayonnaise, relish, ketchup or tomato sauce (to smear lid)
Mix Pattie ingredients in bowl, form 4 patties, 1.5cm / 3/5″ thick, slightly larger than the buns (shrinks slightly). If mixture is super sticky, either refrigerate mixture for 30 minutes, or wet hands or lightly spray hands with oil (I do this).
Heat oil in skillet over medium high heat, cook 2 min until deep golden, then flip. After 1 min, top with a piece of cheese and place lid on to melt.
ASSEMBLE: Split buns and lightly toast, smoosh a generous amount of avo on bun base, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with Chicken Pattie, then rocket/arugula and tomato. Smear the top bun with mayonnaise (or relish, ketchup, other condiment of choice) and place lid on bun.
Mona Chollet, Witches the Undefeated Power of Women.
“If you are a woman and you dare to look inside yourself, then you are a witch.”
The hooked nose, warts, incantations and potions… the witch has always fascinated and the cinema has portrayed her many times. From the cantankerous old queen of Snow White to the brave and valiant Hermione, her representation has evolved a lot in cinema as in history. She has long made children cry and unleashed the fury of men. Put aside, denigrated, burned, feared, it is the object of all fears but also the source of many fantasies. But doesn’t the fear of the witch come simply from the fear of the feminine, in its power and its marginality? Because indeed she appears to be strong, independent, single, sometimes old and childless, coming out of traditional beauty and the dictates imposed by patriarchal societies.
In its early days, cinema mainly filmed the witch as the main figure of fear and anguish. A true cliché of a storybook witch, she is then ugly and shown as monstrous: aged, wrinkled, crooked nose, malevolent and above all shown in opposition to the young, pretty and naive first. The classic The Wizard of Oz is the prime example, but Disney’s version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs or Sleeping Beauty really didn’t help boost its image.
In the 1960s, the witch was domesticated. She has a husband, a family, is a housewife, seeks love and validation. Her physique changes completely, she becomes cute, well-groomed and dressed, always at the forefront of fashion. Her happiness can only be linked to the well-being of her family and her husband. In short, the patriarchy has done its work! To give examples, Sam in the Bewitched series, Gil in Bell, Book and Candle or Morticia from The Adams Family come to mind.
Today the cinema appears very rich in terms of representations and has ceased to convey a single image. Gone are the old black hats and the broom, today they are sexy, go to school and fight with wizards, are scary, make people laugh, are sometimes evil. They are the fantasy of a whole generation, some dreaming of marrying Emma Watson or better of becoming Emma Watson.
For this article on this blog, I wanted to recommend two films that deal with the figure of the witch. Two styles, two directors and two different visions complementing each other rather well.
Suspiria – Dario Argento (1977)
I won’t go into the questionable and recent version of Luca Guadagnino here, simply because I have a lot of grievances about him despite an interesting treatment of the occult. Indeed he develops an approach centered on the power of magic and women, which differs from the version of Argento rather centered on the monstrous. The Suspiria of 77 tends towards the fantastic and the giallo, a genre which appeared in Italy between the 60s and 70s and which mixes murder, sexuality, fantasy, thriller, detective film and fantasy. It is mainly recognized for its particular colors, with a strong use of red, blue and yellow. The scenes are often outrageous and baroque, even extremely kitsch. If you want to know more, I refer you to the filmography of Dario Argento but also of Fulci and Mario Bava.
Suspiria is therefore an extremely cult film that any cinephile fan of the genre must have seen. It is the first part of the Three Mothers Trilogy, preceding Inferno and The Third Mother. This trilogy is entirely devoted to the myth of the witch. Suspiria tells the story of a young dancer making her debut in a German ballet school full of secrets. Given the theme of the chronicle it is not a spoiler to reveal that the founders and teachers engage in black magic. The witch is approached here from the angle of the macabre and the monstrous. They are real fairy tale villains, powerful but diabolical. The young dancers are filmed like children wanting to unravel the mysteries of this school and understand the issues. The school building, with its astonishing architecture reminiscent of art nouveau, is in itself a character in its own right. A veritable castle of stories from our childhood, it is a source of terror but above all of wonder, for the spectator as well as for the young dancers.
Dario Argento uses the baroque and the fantastic to underline the strangeness of the place and the events. He is helped by Goblin and his music which is certainly magnificent but very disturbing. Argento also declares “having tried with Suspiria to mix the world of the tales of Walt Disney and Grimm with the violence of The Exorcist”. For the photography, Luciano Tovoli accentuates the recognizable primary colors of the Giallo and delivers a work worthy of paintings, which accentuates the fantastic and hypnotic aspect of the film. He also draws inspiration from German Expressionist cinema in his use of symbolism.
The Witch – Robert Eggers (2015)
The Witch differs radically from the previous one in its approach as well as in its aesthetics. It comes across as more grounded in reality, colder, and really dwells on the folkloric portrayal of the witch. The Witch is the directorial debut of horror film prodigy Robert Eggers (The Northman, The Lighthouse) who has been proving his talent ever since. It shows us a Puritan family of the 15th century (and still the word is weak, next to the Le Quesnois family are atheists) driven out of their community and having no other choice but to isolate themselves at the edge of a forest. They will gradually find themselves confronted with strange phenomena and lose their footing.
The strength of The Witch is that it is not a work that is necessarily scary, but a work about fear itself. The fear that will plague an entire family and push them to destroy each other. The real threat is not the prowling witch but the fanaticism of the characters. Fanaticism that will push the characters to return the violence towards the eldest personified by Anya Taylor Joy, a young girl with a strong character, and accuse her of all the evils. Since she is beautiful and desirable, she can only mate with the devil. It is not innocent that The Witch is carried by a strong female character and at the dawn of her entry into adolescence, a pivotal period where the body changes and can appear as monstrous or sexualized. The monstrous feminine is also an important theme in horror cinema, highlighted by what is called the “Coming Of Age”, a subgenre that deals with the passage from childhood to adulthood and the loss of a certain innocence as well as the enhancement of one’s own personality. Like Carrie, Thomasin questions imposed dictates, sees herself sexualized by the appearance of her period and must face the gaze of her bigoted entourage.
The film therefore highlights the witch “marginal woman” wishing to emancipate herself from religion and patriarchy, here very well represented by the character of the father. Rather than strictly condemning acts of witchcraft, Eggers first exposes the disturbing aspects before rejoicing and exalting its power in the conclusion. Black magic appears as the creation of oppression, whether through folklore or extreme religious depictions of family. In order to document himself and provide a faithful historical representation, Robert Eggers has carried out meticulous research using period texts such as Malleus Maleficarum, a reference in the fight against witchcraft. Image the witch
“The witch embodies the woman freed from all domination, from all limitations, she is an ideal towards which to strive, she shows the way”
It started out as a routine affair. I never knew how to say no, especially to a pretty woman. I’ve known Grace for a while, and even though we just pretend like nothing happened, we both know the effect she has on me. And also the effect I don’t have on him, but that doesn’t stop me from believing it. So when she asked me to investigate the disappearance of Lilian and Carmen Bauer, two twins from her class (she’s a teacher), rather than telling her to go to the police, I promised her to meet me a little, when I would have finished my day. After all, I’m a detective.
It was dark when I pulled up in front of the Bauers. I didn’t try to be discreet, I wasn’t hiding. By reflex, I checked that all my night equipment was in place: flashlight, professional license and firearms permit. And gun in his holster. I had never used it, but I felt better with it than without, when it was dark. I walked down the driveway that led to the Bauers’ house. The automatic lighting has been triggered. A minivan was parked in front of the garage. Two car seats were installed in the back seat, it was in all likelihood the family car. But the Bauers had been able to leave with a second vehicle. Hard to be sure of anything, but I was starting to feel something weird, like a slight uneasiness. When I rang, no one answered. I walked around the pavilion, even in the dark I saw that the garden was really very well maintained. I tried to see something through the windows, in vain, the curtains were too thick. The bad feeling has not left me.
My tour of the house finished, I rang again. I was about to leave when, in an almost unconscious reflex, I grabbed the handle of the front door. To my surprise, it was open. Obviously, I entered, preceded by the beam of my lamp.
I was immediately hit by the smell. If you’ve smelled carrion once in your life, you’re unlikely to confuse it with anything else. My hair stood on end, but who knows why, I didn’t turn on my heels, slam the door and call the cops. I took out my gun and went in search of the corpses. I knew it was bullshit, and even if I had little chance of finding the murderer, I was going to massacre the crime scene. Because I had no doubt, at that time, that I was at a crime scene. The entrance opened onto a fairly wide hallway. There was a small piece of furniture and a wall coat rack. On the right wall, the cold light of my lamp revealed a family photo: we saw the two little ones, and the parents, blond, beautiful, slim, smiling. And a huge dog, a kind of Great Dane, all in muscles and jaws, lying nonchalantly in front of the children. I told myself that you had to be damn determined to tackle a family with such an imposing dog.
I kept moving forward. The hallway led to a large living room, I immediately noticed the mess. And the blood: on the ground, it was like a giant, horrifying and grotesque smear. And there was always the smell, which filled everything, almost material. I threw up. I had to get out of there, but the macabre power of what I saw and the hope of finding someone alive kept me from running.
The parents’ bodies were behind the sofa, at the foot of the stairs leading upstairs. The murderer had attacked them savagely, it was as if they had been devoured. I retched again.
That’s when I heard the growls. It was coming from above. It was clearly an animal growl, so I thought back to the big dog in the photo, and connected it to the savagery of the scene, and started to get a good idea of what might have happened. pass there. I hadn’t yet completed the mission Grace had given me, so I went upstairs.
I tried to walk quietly. The staircase led to a hallway decorated with children’s drawings. And there was blood, again, and pieces of something that I didn’t try to identify. Everything suddenly became silent. I stopped, listening. The silence continued, then the growls resumed, coming from a room to the left.
I moved slowly, the gun pointed at the door. The growls stopped, again. I walked past the door. She was ajar. From inside came an infernal chewing sound. I pushed open the door, and stepped back, illuminating the interior with my lamp.
It was not what I had imagined. The two twins were there, leaning over what was left of the big dog. The boy looked up at me, and he started to growl. His sister remained focused on her task, her head buried in the disembowelled carcass of the mastiff. I got dizzy, and all I could hear was the sickening sound of the kid’s jaws. Finally she stopped, and they both stared at me, their faces smeared with blood and raw flesh, with a look a little sorry, like two children caught stealing candy. I was not prepared for this. I had a second of hesitation, and the boy took the opportunity to attack me. The little bastard was fast, and he had time to bite my left hand before I blew his skull off. The bang stunned me. The little girl let out a scream and tried to get up, but she slipped on something slimy. She tipped back, her head hitting the corner of a chest of drawers. There was a sharp crack, and she went limp. Her body sagged slowly against the piece of furniture on which she had just broken her neck.
The house fell silent again. I caught my breath, and I remained without doing anything for several minutes. Dazed, I went back downstairs and left the house. Only then did I put my gun away, lit a cigarette, and started shaking.
I was in shock, and even though the brat hadn’t bitten me very deeply, my hand was hurting the hell out of me, if that expression was appropriate in this case. I couldn’t call the cops, I couldn’t. So I did the most ultimately stupid thing of the evening, during which I had nevertheless accumulated world-class bullshit: I went to Grace’s.
She took good care of me, as she always had. She took care of my hand. But after that, while I was drinking a pick-me-up, I felt a terrible twinge, and it was as if my arm was covered with molten lava.
Everything got confused, the pain pierced me, I became pain. And something else too. Visions of the two cherubs devouring the dog assaulted me. It was very real, and the smell was there again, in Grace’s living room, all around me. So I wanted her. Not sexually. Well, not just sexually. I took a step forward. She took a step back. Then I threw myself on her.
You might think that I no longer have any lucidity, but that is not the case. Unfortunately. I am still perfectly conscious, and I remember everything. On the other hand, I feel that my own will and my free will are diminishing as the hot lava from my bitten arm pours into the rest of my body. I know what I have to do now that everything is in writing. I still have four bullets in my magazine, that’s way more than I need. I’m gonna put an end to this dirty business, it’s the least I can do for Grace.
But before, I’m going to take a last bite, all that really made me very hungry.
Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add garlic, cook for 30 sec.
Add flour and stir into melted butter. While whisking, gradually pour in about 1/3 of the milk. Once the flour-butter mixture is incorporated into the milk, pour in remaining milk and whisk.
Add Vegeta, mustard, onion and garlic powder, whisk. Whisk constantly to make sure the white sauce doesn’t catch on the base, 4 – 5 min until sauce thick enough that you can draw a path across the back of a spoon (see video). Stir in parmesan.
Add tuna into pasta, flake into large chunks with fork, add corn, pour over sauce, then gently stir. Scrape into baking dish, top with Crunchy Topping.
Bake 25 min until top is golden and edges are bubbling. Sprinkle with chives if desired then serve!
Take care of yourself and your loved ones. See you soon!
With the return of the cold and the arrival of autumn, soup season has come but as it is a little early to say goodbye to the sun, I offer you a soup that is full of it and which I am sure will stimulate you. the taste buds with its Middle Eastern accents.
Spices: 2 tsp EACH cumin powder, coriander, paprika 1 tsp cardamon powder (can omit if you don’t have ¼ tsp cinnamon powder ½ tsp cayenne pepper (adjust to taste) 1/2 tsp black pepper 1 tsp salt Soup: 2 tbsp olive oil 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 onion, finely chopped 500g / 1 lb lamb mince (ground lamb, or beef) (Note 1) 2 tbsp tomato paste 2 carrots, peeled and chopped (about size of chickpeas) 600g / 21 oz canned chickpeas, drained (1.5 standard cans) 400g / 14oz can crushed tomato 3 cups / 750 ml chicken broth / stock 1 bunch spinach, roughly chopped (about 4 packed cups) (wilts a lot) Garnishes: Plain yoghurt (or sour cream), fresh coriander / cilantro
Heat oil in a large pot over high heat. Add garlic and onion, cook for 1 minute until starting to turn translucent.
Add lamb and cook, breaking it up as you go. When it has mostly turned from pink to light brown, add spices.
Cook for 1 minute, then add tomato paste and cook for another 1 minute. (It smells amazing!)
Add carrots, chickpeas, tomato and broth. Stir and bring to simmer.
Cover with lid, lower heat so it is bubbling energetically but not crazy rapidly. Cook for 10 minutes until carrot is tender but not super soft – I like it to have a bit of bite still, if you want super soft, keep cooking.
Stir through spinach. Once wilted, adjust salt, pepper and spiciness (cayenne) to taste.
Ladle into bowls, add a dollop of yogurt and a generous sprinkling of cilantro. Enjoy!
Beef is the next best sub. Chicken, turkey and veal an also be used.
Last Friday I have friends came home to watch the latest Thor. For the evening I had made waffles with spinach and goat cheese to snack on in front of the screen. The movie was really bad but the waffles saved the evening!
INGREDIENTS (for 12 waffles) :
340 g wheat flour T80 if change, then modulate the added milk
200 ml oat milk vegetarian milk or not of your choice
100g fresh spinach leaves
100 g log of goat’s cheese or other cheese
70 g pine nuts or other nuts, almonds, hazelnuts…
80 ml olive oil or butter
Mix in a container the flour with the milk, the eggs, the previously mixed pine nuts, the salt and finally the olive oil. Mix until you obtain a homogeneous preparation.
Then add the pieces of goat cheese and the fresh spinach leaves as they are. Mix so that the waffle batter coats the cheese and spinach well.
Then pour the equivalent of a good tablespoon into the waffle iron and so on until the preparation is used up.
Steven, a father-to-son unicorn breeder for 18 generations, was upset. The breeding season was not looking good, but then not good at all. Already, Lucette had started making milk way too soon—all that wasted colostrum was frustrating. And then, for a few months, they had all had aberrant requirements for their end of gestation. Strawberries in the middle of winter, a great classic, it was just the warm-up; afterwards, we had moved on to a cup of eternal snow sprinkled with Aji Charapita peppers picked on a full moon night, or three grams of cerberus skin diluted in original fruit compote, these kinds of little cravings that are easy to satisfy. Steven had been limping since his encounter with the Cerberus in question, he had been bitten by a snake and was still nursing his chilblains; frankly, he was sick of it. On the verge of dropping everything to convert to a quieter job, Steven. Anything would do, horn polisher for Minotaurs or toilet paper keeper in a supermarket, anything. He sighed. He needed air, that’s all.
— Steven, have you finished changing my litter? — No, Leontine, not yet. — So, what are you doing daydreaming on your pitchfork? These edelweiss are not going to distribute themselves! — Yes, Leontine.
Nah, frankly, there was no worse job than raising unicorns. Especially since they had unionized. In Grandpa Robert’s time, they would never have dared to ask for anything other than straw in their unicorn boxes. Edelweiss, frankly! The price per kilo was staggering, and it didn’t absorb anything, either! Steven suspected them of testing his resilience. Or his bank account. And then what an idea, frankly, to breed creatures whose gestation time is twenty-two years. Twenty-two years ! We had time to clean out the boxes before having the privilege of seeing a unicorn! Fortunately, unicorn hair sold very well on the black market. As long as they didn’t find out, he could easily avoid bankruptcy.
— Steven, tell me, with the friends we would have liked to try… Steven, sweating from the effort of stirring the edelweiss, painfully sat up and barked: — What now ? — Still ? How so again? We didn’t ask you today!
Steven opened his mouth to deliver a scathing repartee, then snapped it dryly. Appealing to Lorette’s intellect was a bad idea; it had been fallow for a good two centuries already, apparently. Arguing with her was like playing chess with a pigeon; no matter your level, the pigeon will just knock over all the pieces, shit on the board and proudly strut around like it’s won. Steven sighed; Lorette pinched her nostrils and continued, stubbornly:
— With the friends, we would like to test the Kangoo Jump. — The what? — The Kangoo Jump, you know, the springs you put under your feet? We saw that on TV.
Ah, yes, TV. Installing the small screen for them in the stables was not the idea of the century, it was confirmed day after day. Fearing the worst, he followed the matriarch to the TV, then waited for the commercial to agree to reappear. Between two day creams with Aloe Vera, he finally discovered the machine, terrified.
— But… it’s for humans! — You’ll manage to adapt that to our clogs. — And have you seen the price? You need four of them! — Yeah, oh, it’s not that bad. We will each do it in turn. — And you’re sure it’s a great idea, at the end of gestation, like that? Aren’t you supposed to preserve yourselves, be reasonable?
Lucette contented herself with staring at him in silence. All the air from the Himalayas circulated between his two ears, without encountering the slightest neural obstacle. Steven lost himself in the visualization of a snow-white pigeon, decked out in a golden horn, trying to move a chess pawn. He snorted to come back to reality, ran a sweaty hand over his face and capitulated: — Pink or blue, the Kangoo Jump?
— Hiiiii look, Steven, they are there! — Yeah, great, wow… Insensitive to the overflowing enthusiasm of their breeder, the unicorns jostled around the box just placed in front of the stables. The air sparkled, filled with the sequins they let loose in their glee. — Go Steven, opeeeeeeeen! Obviously, it was up to him to do all the work, since they were incapable of holding scissors, these devils. He tore open the tape and pulled the coveted items out of their cases, like Arthur pulling Excalibur from the rock. A ray of sunlight illuminated the pearly purple of the shoes. The unicorns sighed together, conquered. — Well, you have drawn lots who will start? The tension rose suddenly. Steven realized that several unicorns bore traces of hoof kicks, even bite marks. His instinct for survival screamed death; he raised his arms and bellowed, just in time to avoid the carnage: — OKEYYYYYYYYYY, calm down, it’s up to me! And the first that jostles me will go last! They stopped. — Splash, splash, you’ll be the one to start, one, two, thriiiiiiiii… Lisa-Rose! — But… — And all those who discuss will be deprived of compote tonight! Thirty-four adult unicorns sulked, while young Lisa-Rose waddled contentedly. Steven stuffed the toes of the shoes with cotton, then equipped the unicorn with the Kangoo Jump.
— Above all, be careful, huh? — Yes yes… — Don’t go too fast or too far… watch out for the lake… — But yes… — And if anything happens, you come get me, huh? She rushed forward without deigning to answer, dropping sequins and rainbows, hopping even more as she passed in front of her upset comrades. — That’s awesome!
Steven, reassured by his apparent balance, went back to shoveling his edelweiss. It was Loralie who came to alert him, about twenty minutes later. — Steven? Lisa-Rose still hasn’t come back, and yet it’s our turn! She cheats! Steven frowned. — Let’s not be too quick to judge. Where did she go? — In the forest ! To hide and go on all afternoon, I’m sure! She cheeps! Leaving Loralie to her pigeonish hysteria, Steven went in search of the big offender. — Lisa-Roooooose! Youhou, Lisa-Roooooose! After a few minutes of fruitless searching, he twisted slightly and put his hand over his mouth to change the sound of his voice:
— The stupid-unicorn is called to the reception, I repeat, the stupid-unicorn is called to the reception! Her hysterical laughter made all the birds in the area fly away. — Hey, Steven, it’s not very nice to call me that… — Lisa-Rose? But where are you ? I do not see you !
— Look higher. Steven looked up and launched into a very interesting part of “Where’s Wally.” Searching for a white animal in a birch forest, frankly… A burst of purple color caught his eye on the only ash tree in the corner. Lisa-Rose hung from a branch, her legs dangling, her horn deeply planted in the gnarled wood. — Steven…Steven! Can you stop laughing for five minutes, please? The rancher wiped away his tears and stood up. Unable to keep his seriousness, he fell back into laughter.
— STEVEN! — Yes, yes Lisa-Rose, sorry. — You come look for me ? His voice broken by his efforts, he shook his head no, then explained to her: — First I’m going to need to go back to the stables for a ladder and a saw. I’m coming back, above all, don’t move! He gave her a bright smile and walked back to the building. Before getting her out of there, he had one urgent thing to do: order two pairs of Kangoo Jump for each unicorn present at the breeding, as well as a camera. The week was going to be fun, after all.
This week, I’m bringing you something a little different than usual. My cousin Alice had an accident. She’s fine but she has a broken leg and was entitled to a long recovery time so to keep her busy I offered her a little collaboration. She illustrated this story and the story you are about to discover was written by our four hands.
The story is a bit more childish than usual but I hope you’ ‘ll enjoy it.
The legend of Lilfire
Lilfire stomped forward. He had just argued with his father again: Burninflame was a 625-year-old Great Ruby Dragon and he couldn’t stand that his youngest son didn’t have a job. “Learn from your brothers!” Roarloud has worked at the forge since he was 193 years old. When Fierelmet enlisted in the royal guard, he was just 181 years old. Even Brurn found a job at the mine before he turned 207! And you, at 212, you’re still here! Lilfire would have liked to make his father proud of him, but he was not like his brothers. He wasn’t tall and muscular, and his flames were barely enough to start a wood fire. Every time he applied somewhere, a stronger dragon got the job. When he passed the forge, Roarloud called out to him. “Fuck it!” Did you argue with Dad again? Anyway, I have good news. I registered you. Lilfire grabbed the yellowed sheet her brother held out to her, on which was written in gold letters: “Hear, hear dragons and dragons!” The king is looking for a dragon to defend his treasure. In order to choose the strongest among you, a big sports competition is organized. At the end of the latter, the dragon with the best score will have the immense honor of becoming the guardian of the royal treasure. If you are over 180, register with the palace steward. » Roarloud had signed him up for a sports competition. Organized by the king himself, what’s more. And that was supposed to be good news… “Roarloud, I can’t go. I will make a fool of myself. What would I do in a sports competition? “I’ll train you!” And then imagine how happy Daddy would be if you won! “But I will never win!” There’s only one way to find out…
They had a month to prepare Lilfire for the tests of the competition: acrobatic flight with a block of stone, camouflage, spitting fire on moving targets, and finally, the fight against knights. Unlike his brother, Lilfire was far from optimistic. They started with camouflage since it was the only test he felt capable of tackling. Indeed, he had inherited his mother’s dark gray scales, which made him look like a big rock. For the other events, Roarloud called upon the skills of Brurn and Fierelmet in order to prepare Lilfire as well as possible. Brurn for bodybuilding and endurance, Fierelmet for combat techniques; himself would take care of the fire-spitting. With such a demanding training and such demanding teachers, Lilfire did not see the time passing and one morning, without warning, the sun rose on the first day of the competition.
A colorful crowd crowded the drawbridge to enter the huge arena of the castle. Wooden bleachers stood all around, set up for the occasion. Five large rocks were arranged in a circle in the center of the arena. Lilfire paid no heed to the cheers of the crowd and headed straight for them. Four other dragons did the same. Lilfire didn’t dare meet their eyes, he concentrated on his block and remembered his choreography. He had to keep his rock in the air for more than three minutes by performing as many tricks as possible to score points. A sound of the gong announced the start of the test. All the dragons took off at the same time, except Lilfire. He climbed on his rock, dug his claws into the roughness of the rock and flapped his wings. Gradually he rose. During this time the other dragons had stung to recover their block helped by their momentum. Lilfire, meanwhile, continued to climb. When he was about six meters above the ground, he dropped his rock. He flew another ten meters and swooped down after the huge stone. He passed her, spun around and picked her up on her back. The shock took his breath away and nearly knocked him off balance. He hovered for a few moments then, mobilizing his last strength, did a loop. The boulder fell right back to where it started and Lilfire landed right behind it. Another sound of the gong announced the end of the first round.
A huge blackboard had been set up to record the scores. For each event, the first earned 50 points, the second 40 and so on. When Lilfire looked up at the painting, he couldn’t believe his eyes. Missia, a female mole who failed to lift her boulder, was last with 10 points. Feurlet, a dragon with electric blue scales, followed her with 20 points. Foudre, another dazzling golden female, was third with 30 points, while Veryfierce, a large pine green male, won the class with 50 points. Lilfire was therefore second and gained 40 points. Unbelievable !
For the rest, a section of the arena had been dismantled, so that it was now open to the forest. The camouflage test was simple: the dragons had one minute to blend into the landscape. The first to be seen lost. The five competitors lined up at the edge of the forest, and, at the sound of the gong, dashed between the trees. Missia, who thanks to her dull dress had blended in with the earth, came second. Veryfierce, who had melted into the foliage of the trees, finished third. Lightning with his golden scales was the penultimate, ahead of Feurlet and his dazzling blue cuirass. Lilfire, transformed into a rock, won the test. He was now leading the competition with 90 points! He couldn’t believe it. But his joy quickly waned. The last two trials to come were the ones he dreaded the most.
Thirty yards from the five dragons, targets were mounted on rails. Feurlet passed first and hit seven out of ten targets. Veryfierce burned nine, Missia five. Lightning burned them all at once. It was Lilfire’s turn. The sound of the gong startled him. He inflated his chest to the maximum, felt his fire pocket fill up and spat as hard as he could. He didn’t hit any targets. However, he didn’t have time to mope because he already had to prepare for the last test, the fight.
Lilfire was the second to pass. Three knights in armor were waiting for him on the sand. At the sound of the gong, the first, equipped with a flail and a shield, threw himself on him. Lilfire curled up on himself and leapt above his opponent, without the flail touching him. He landed right next to the second knight who was pointing a spiked spear at him. He mowed it down with a swipe of his paw, while sweeping the first one with his tail. Seeing his two teammates on the ground, the third, armed with two long swords, slowly backed away. He was trying to buy time to allow the others to get up. Lilfire didn’t let this fool her and instead of attacking her directly, he knocked out the other two once and for all. Alone with his two swords, the last knight rushed at Lilfire. As Fierelmet had taught him, he blew out a thick plume of smoke from his nostrils to blind his opponent before ripping his swords off with a sharp claw movement and putting him out of action.
The king stood upright on the dais as he addressed the crowd to close the competition. “At the end of this historic sporting competition we have a happy winner! I would like to congratulate you all for the magnificent show you have given us. Without further ado, the name of the new guardian of my royal treasure: Veryfierce! Congratulations ! » The crowd cheered cheerfully but the king resumed, silencing the cheers. “However, my dear friends, he was not the only one to impress us! Another competitor stood out for his originality and above all for his vigor in combat. Thus, I decided to reward also the second of this competition. You see, my daughter, Princess Iloa, needs a valiant protector. So I designate Lilfire as Princess Iloa’s official bodyguard! Kudos to him! » Lilfire choked at this announcement. Roarloud at his side gave him a strong slap on the back to congratulate him. Fierelmet and Brurn spat flames into the sky to proclaim their joy. The crowd cheered him and Veryfierce, and among all these people, Lilfire saw a large ruby dragon. Burninflame looked at him and in his eyes shone a gleam of pride.
Alice is 16 (well soon 17 years old) but she is already quite a talented artist. She just start her blog but I know it, there will be soon tones of good sketches and photos and other amazing things. If you wanna discover her univers, please go check her blog :
Earth is fucked. In Joshua’s opinion, there is nothing to salvage. The fields are dry, the limestone soil aborts its young before they bud. The sick sun only gives the city a handful of hours a day – or what’s left of it – to feed the plants. Either way, his meager heat isn’t enough to stimulate their wrinkled leaves. The stems lengthen desperately, the shoots become exhausted and spread out the better to return to the earth. Since the Fall, this planet is nothing more than a big corpse.
— I disagree. An old plastic bag full of dirt in hand, Eli shakes his head. — There are solutions, he insists. — Are you talking about your garden on the third floor? — That works. I grow more and more stuff.
The third is the last part of the building that did not collapse. The walls are torn without logic, like cutting a sheet by pulling on its ends. It is reached by a staircase that lets in the rain – when it deigns to fall. Eli requisitioned it to start a vegetable garden there and, since then, it has disappeared for hours over his head. Joshua doesn’t care. He takes the opportunity to read old books that he collects from the common library, when he’s not fixing something old or testing his connection. In vain. Few still manage to access the NewWeb today.
— Hey, Josh. — What ? — You would not want to let go of your machines, sometimes?
His machines. That’s what Eli calls his tampered radio and the computer he managed to revive. With the energy he diverts, he manages to light them for an hour a day. It’s little, it doesn’t do him much good. But that’s all he has left of his great pre-Fall passion.
— Why ? — I have something to show you. Joshua shrugs. He abandons his things to get up. — Can you take the pallets by the way?
He catches them without answering. The weathered wood is clear against its black skin. He strokes it briefly to check for splinters, then he loads them onto his shoulders. He is muscular, much more than Eli. Even if he never did anything for it. Joshua has always preferred the silence of a bedroom to the sun of a summer day. It never really worked before. It was… complicated. It’s always been complicated. He is one of those who welcomed the end of the world with relief. He climbs the stairs at his own pace. Outside, dusk awaits him. If the building they are squatting in was once a proud building, it is now nothing more than an amputated pillar. Broken walls and, in the middle, a pile of pots and planters where Eli spreads his plants.
— You can put it there. Joshua drops his weight. — Come.
He does not understand what the other expects of him. He was never good at gardening. If he tried to pull a shoot from his soil, he would probably break the stem. When he wants to water them, he drowns them, and he can’t guess what disease is turning their green leaves into funny yellow spots. No, Joshua does not understand plants. Their nature intimidates him. But he likes the little cries of bats that rise as night falls.
— Eli? — It’s over there.
He sees her blonde hair fluttering on her neck. Cut with tears, the rough locks are surly forms. Like leaves scorched by the sun. When he passes his hand over it, the material reminds him of the dead earth they tread on every day. This too hard soil where nothing grows anymore. Almost nothing. Every time he looks out the window, he sees only a dry world that is dying. He does not understand why Eli strives to plant his little seeds. Even if he likes the shape of the leaves of the tomato plants.
— here. An empty dirt container. Good. — Looked.
Since he’s the one asking, Joshua leans down unbelievingly. He observes and looks at this soft and humid matter which seems to be moving. She swarms. Move of his own volition. It’s weird, but he understands better what is going on by discerning the pink shapes which move in the middle of each other.
— What’s this ? — Earthworms. — It’s ugly.
Elijah laughs. His voice, more powerful than his, explodes in the night.
— It’s not made to be beautiful. — It’s sticky.
Of course, Joshua knows earthworms. He’s seen it a long time ago. Several years.
— And it’s crawling. — I say. It’s not very pretty to see. — Why are you putting them there? — For the compost.
Compost. He’s heard that word many times, but he realizes he doesn’t really know the definition. Compost. It looks like compote. Except he doesn’t want to bite it.
— I do not understand.
He never understands gardening, anyway. And he doesn’t understand why that makes Eli smile either. Instead, he would be offended.
— It’s for growing plants. To feed them. — And after ? — There is no after. We mix it with the soil and wait for it to grow.
He takes his hand to drag him to his pots. Not those who sleep outside, no. Those in the big greenhouse. Where he sees two small green circles which are probably future tomatoes.
— That’s life.
— It’s plants.
Eli strokes the ceramic rim of a pot. Joshua does not imitate him. He hates this material which catches his fingers.
— We haven’t been able to plant anything for years now. The fields are bursting. But that… That, that pushed. With a little effort and patience. He caresses the underside of an incredibly green leaf.
— Of course it’s nothing compared to what we could do before. It takes time and we don’t even have enough to eat. But it pushes.
There are zucchini, more, far. Their long serrated leaves make it think of teeth. Those of bats. Joshua is very fond of bats. The curled up cocoon that their bodies form when they hide in an old parasol. Looks like a twisted seed ready to bloom.
— What are the worms for? he asks, pointing to the tray. — It enriches the soil. They aerate the earth by digging holes, it also promotes the penetration of water, and… It’s complicated to explain, but that’s why the earth isn’t completely punctured. Aeration, enrichment. It’s fuzzy in Joshua’s head, but Eli says it with such conviction. He sees him running off to grab a book – a big, heavy book with a cracked spine.
— I picked this up at the Chardons bookstore. Must believe that gardening did not interest the looters, he explains by turning the pages. There are things to do. Even if it’s shit, we can still grow plants, Josh. He catches her eye. Eli has eyes that are too blue, clear as a glass of water. Eyes that can’t lie. — And as long as you can grow plants, there’s life.
A gust of wind stirs the leaves around them. Those of the shoots that do not sleep in the greenhouse, under artificial lights. Joshua scans the material they have amassed here. These treasures that they struggle to keep alive with their stolen generator. These little lives that sink their roots into a black earth.
Most of the time, he doubts that anyone will ever be able to grow as many stems out of the ground as they need. He got used to old cans found in an abandoned apartment that hasn’t been stripped yet. But when Eli’s gaze lights up for a sprout that points the tip of its muzzle, it’s stronger than him. He finds himself hoping.
Today is suicide prevention day. Following the suicide of a friend some years ago, I told you about my attempt. Today I just take this opportunity to pay homage to her with this little unpretentious fiction.
The color of water
The water seemed beautiful to her, Maggie planted her tiptoe there. After three long hours of walking under the August sun punctuated by her brother’s grunts, she wanted more than anything to dive there into this transparency: to wash her body of the sweat that ran from her neck to her lower back. and the head under water, not to hear any more its jeremiads. The picnic and the first hike traditionally marked the beginning of a family summer vacation.
The Copenhagen apartment abandoned for two weeks, a journey traced, organized, timed, from the month of January by the mother had begun. But from summer to summer, disconnecting from everyday life became less easy. Parents always found an excuse to check their emails, from work or parent-teacher associations, whatever! Thomas anchored his headphones to his ears at length, only Maggie survived without wires, connected only to the nature around her, looking up at the peaks and the foliage, listening to those of the birds which did not fly away frightened by the disputes about the next stage chosen… She walked with her eyes in the green, in search of a soothing rhythm, her head still too full of the metallic noises of the city.
No need to strive to carry on any conversation whatsoever during this forced march; and then anyway, with Thomas, no more discussion was possible: paradoxically, he seemed to be angry with the whole world since he had won the congratulations of the jury in the final exams of “Gymnasium”*, and the earth whole, it started with her twin who she had only just passed her exam in June. Their aspirations were like disjointed without them really realizing it themselves.
The young girl brought up the rear because she was lingering longer. “Stop hanging around, slug! his father had repeated all morning. Maggie no longer heard, she breathed in, inhaled the smell of dry thorns and smiled at the butterflies in the tall grass, trying to guess the shape of the pebbles under her shoes. Why come this far if it was to run again? In order to be able to hold forth in society in September: we swallowed so many kilometers, on a terrible drop in altitude in less than a fortnight! Competition was the very essence of his parents. We didn’t play tennis: we had to be ranked; we didn’t cook: we made the recipes of the great chefs; we didn’t play the piano: we went to the conservatory…
They had settled down under the welcoming and generous shade of an umbrella pine. Her mother’s pride would come out of her backpacks: terrines, a seasonal vanilla fruit tart, an organic fruit juice, nothing but homemade! So Thomas might grumble that he would have preferred a sandwich, crisps and coke. Maggie was not hungry. She took off her oversized T-shirt and her sports pants, put them next to her shoes. She entered the wave gradually, she seemed afraid to disturb the clear and soft expanse that enveloped her and engulfed her as delicately as a silk blanket, her silhouette was so frail. The young girl swam in apnea as long as she could, underwater, her weight vanishing. When she stuck her head out, she was halfway between the two banks.
She stared on her back then sat up to scrutinize the couple formed by her parents. Neither of them spoke or touched. Like the evenings in the living room. Like the mornings in the kitchen. They exchanged only in the presence of the weekend guests transformed in spite of themselves into relays of the conjugal word a formidable couple, Erik and Cathie! They are on all fronts, everything is successful for them, nothing ever frightens them, nothing is impossible! Cathie had double the work, you think with twins!
Thomas, giving in to his perpetual bad mood, had dissociated himself from the now ill-matched duo, sitting on a dead trunk lying down; she could only make out his already hunched back. She turned and in a slow breaststroke headed for the opposite sandy edge. The more she moved away from them, the more her breathing calmed down. Her heart seemed to be beating better, less painful. Her muscle mass having melted in recent months, the physical efforts were beginning to cost her. But there, between the drops, she felt lighter, almost gone. If Erik and Cathie had taken the time to raise their heads, her naked thinness would have pierced their eyes, her protruding ribs, her sharp elbows and the hole in his belly, her body so thin that she trembled at the slightest breath, they would have looked at their girl ghost, failing to touch the truth.
Maggie totally crossed the river in the carrier current, on the other side, she sat down and tried to take stock. If she went deeper into the forest now, when would they realize she was missing? She didn’t want to worry them, but something in there was consuming her, a force that unbalanced her while pushing her beyond the boundaries set by her family. When one is not armed for life, what escape route is there? When the abyss awaits you, where to hide? She plunged discreetly into the wood; For a long time, she did not meet anyone.
— Thomas, have you seen Maggie? inquired Cathie, who was handing her son a slice of pie. — She doesn’t need to be watched, Mom! — She must have stayed a bit behind, added Erik, as usual!
Thomas approached the water and picked up his sister’s small bundle of clothes. The shimmer of the sun on the undulating surface created flashes, blinded him. On the other bank, he thought he saw a small family set up to have a picnic as well. Parents and children sitting by the river had fun trying to ricochet. Their flat pebbles dipped unfailingly and yet they laughed.
Maggie, vi har savnet dig i mange år allerede og alligevel havde vi ikke set dit ubehag. Jeg håber, at hvor du er nu, hviler du i fred.